CHICAGO -- Cesar Izturis tends to be an afterthought in discussions of the Cardinals' offense, and understandably so. He's had a rough year overall at the plate, despite playing his usual exemplary defense at shortstop.

However, those times when Izturis is going strong at the plate, he's a real catalyst for St. Louis. Lately, he's been hot, and the Cards are reaping the benefits.

Entering Sunday night's game, Izturis had multiple hits in each of his past four starts, going 9-for-17 (.529) in his past five games. Since July 28, he's 16-for-39 (.410) with a .477 on-base percentage and nine runs scored in 12 games. The Cardinals have scored 72 runs those contests.

"He's getting on top of the ball," said hitting coach Hal McRae. "He was losing the barrel, but now he's getting on top of the ball. Every good swing is inside the ball. But the main thing for him is getting on top of it. He struggled with it starting in the spring, losing the barrel."

Izturis has raised his batting average, his on-base percentage and his slugging percentage by 25 points each over his 12-game run. And in the past 10 games in which he's scored a run, the Cardinals are 9-1. On the year, St. Louis is 22-8 when Izturis scores. He's typically the No. 9 hitter in manager Tony La Russa's "double-leadoff" lineup configuration, so the lineup works much better when Izturis is getting on base.

He did that early in the year, then slumped badly in June and July. Since late July, though, he's been performing well again.

"I think it's confidence," Izturis said when asked to explain his hot streak. "I feel good at the plate. I try to go up there and do my best. I'm hitting the ball good and seeing the ball good. So I think it's confidence. I just keep working, and the confidence that Tony gives me is important. He never gave up on me."